‘Everyday God-Talk’ guest asks, ‘Can the church catch the visions of young people?’

Joel, an oft-neglected book, speaks to Millennials during COVID-19

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

So Jung Kim of the Office of Theology & Worship, at right, interviews the Rev. Dr. Jaco Hamman during the most recent installment of “Everyday God-Talk.”

LOUISVILLE — In the latest edition of  Everyday God-Talk, So Jung Kim, associate for Theology in the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Office of Theology & Worship, visits with Jaco Hamman,  a PC(USA) ordained pastor who’s a professor at the Vanderbilt Divinity School.

In the first of a three-part video conversation, Hamman talks with Kim about his most recent book, “The Millennial Narrative: Sharing a Good Life with the Next Generation.”

 “I wrote it because that’s the generation (ages 16-40) that’s usually absent from our churches,” he said.

The book draws on wisdom from the prophetic book of Joel. Saying it is “a very neglected book of Scripture,” Hamman called Joel “the most important book of our time.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic only reinforces its significance, especially for young people going through this crisis,” Hamman said.

Describing Joel as a six-act play, Hamman said the prophet speaks to and about people experiencing great loss. Life as they knew it had been destroyed. The prophet Joel encourages them to lament and grieve — and to change their identity and discover who they are. It is in this space that people discover a gracious compassionate God, who is, as Joel 2:13 puts it, “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

“Then God promises to pour out [God’s] spirit on all people, especially young people, who will see visions,” Hamman said.

In his book, Hamman asks, “Can the church catch the visions of young people?”

Hamman said the younger generation is interested in the good life, which along with financial security includes working for social justice and inclusion and breaking down structural racism.

“Churches have been so focused on the good news that they have missed the good life,” Hamman said.

Instead of asking young people to come to church, Hamman encourages faith communities to join young people in what they’re doing to make a difference the world — and to learn from them.

After viewing part one of Kim’s conversation with Hamman, the Rev. Dr. Barry Ensign-George, coordinator for Theology and Worship, said, “Hamman’s reflections on the book of Joel are fascinating.”

Watch the latest Everyday God-Talk — which includes Hamman’s full description of the six-act play in Joel — on the Office of Theology & Worship’s Facebook page.

Download the Everyday God-Talk videos here.

Kim said that part two of her conversation with Hamman will be about the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Matthew 25 invitation.  Part three will focus on the coronavirus crisis and how “The Millennial Narrative,” the Book of Joel and the Matthew 25 invitation can speak to young adults now and after the pandemic.  Those segments are set for release on May 13 and 20.

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